Poker Fans Try Hand at Lobbying

Poker players in the United States who want access to online card rooms are taking their mission to nominating conventions where they are trying to lobby lawmakers to get the law overturned.

The Poker Players Alliance, which represents about 1 million people, held a charity poker tournament during the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, and brought a number of legislators to the event.


“Up until this point, the minority of the public that is anti-gambling has yelled louder,” professional poker player Andy Bloch told Reuters. “We’re trying to change that.”


During the Democratic convention, a charity tournament was staged benefiting the Paralyzed Veterans of America.


Lobbying Democrats is not as difficult as it is with the Republicans. Many Democrats oppose the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and a number have introduced legislation to overturn it. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank has introduced legislation that would regulate online gambling. He said he expects the legislation will pass next year in a Congress controlled by Democrats.


But the Republican side still opposes online gaming-it is even part of the official presidential platform. The opposition largely stems from one of the strongest constituent groups for the Republicans: Christian conservatives.


Chad Hills, an analyst for Focus on the Family, said the internet is akin to a public library. Because gambling is not allowed in a public library, it should not be allowed on the internet, either, he said.


“You can’t make public policy out of a group of individuals’ desires,” Hills said. “You have to say, ‘How is this impacting our culture? How is this impacting our children?'”


Some lawmakers are supporting legislation to study online gaming, including what the

benefits and costs would be of regulating it in the U.S. Such legislation is largely opposed by
Republicans.

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